Although, Tice’s book on evangelism leaves much to be desired, I found this quote sobering:
When he sent his disciples out on their own for the first time to tell others about him, here’s how he described their mission:
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” (Matthew 10 v 16)
That’s what Jesus says is going on when a Christian in the workplace or the coffee shop or at the meal table opens their mouth to talk about who Jesus is, why he came and what that means. Sheep among wolves…think about that for a moment. You don’t see pictures of this in children’s Bibles. We don’t like to think or talk about it much. But it’s the image Jesus uses.
Now why is it like that? Why is telling people about Christ so hard? Because of what our world is like. Jesus describes it so vividly in this parable:
“A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall round it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.” (Mark 12 v 1-5)
Jesus is aiming his words at the religious leaders of his day, but we share the same DNA as them. In other words, the picture of the vineyard is a picture of the world, and people are like God’s tenants…and the tenants want to be the owners. Jesus says human beings use their freedom to deny the owner of this world his rights. We are tenants who want to be owners; so we act as if we are the owners, and we hate the real Owner. And so the Owner’s messengers are not welcome. They get hit; they get hurt; they get killed.
Sheep among wolves. Messengers going to tenants who want to be owners. That’s what evangelism is. That’s what I realised [sic] as I knelt by my bed that night; and if you’ve been trying to tell friends and family about Christ, that’s what you’ll have discovered, too. And I bet that if you have stopped trying, it’s because you’ve come to one of two conclusions. Either you don’t think it’s working, because you got hit; or you don’t think it’s worth it, because you got hit.
Are you intimidated by evangelism? That’s ok. Most of us are hesitant to cross the line from the comfortable to the realm of putting our faith out there. However, there is no way around it. We cannot wait for the perfect time. In my experience, that time never comes. We cannot wait for a sign from heaven or our friend to ask, “What’s different about you?” Jesus sent us out as sheep in the midst of wolves. We are going to get hurt and that’s ok. He’s with us every step of the way. If someone mocks you; God supports you. If someone rejects your message; God accepts you. Even if someone kills you; God will raise you from the dead. We are not better than Jesus. We are not better than Paul. We are not better than the great many courageous Christ-followers over the centuries who had the courage to speak up. Don’t let fear muzzle your voice. Take the risk.